Tottenham`s priceless Bale envy of every club in Europe
Tottenham Hotspur`s Gareth Bale is the envy of Europe`s top clubs after destroying Inter Milan`s defence for the second time in two weeks but manager Harry Redknapp said on Wednesday he was not for sale at any price.
The Welsh left winger followed up his hat-trick in the 4-3 Champions League defeat at the San Siro with a spellbinding display on Tuesday night as Tottenham beat the European champions 3-1 at White Hart Lane to go top of Group A.
Bale, 21, bamboozled Inter`s Brazil right back Maicon with a buccaneering performance, creating the second and third goals for Spurs who came of age in Europe`s blue riband competition.
Former Barcelona, Real Madrid, Inter and Portugal winger Luis Figo watched Bale`s display in awe and Inter boss Rafael Benitez suggested he would walk into his team.
Glenn Hoddle, one of Tottenham`s greatest ever players, said Barcelona and Real Madrid would join the clamour for Bale`s signature although Redknapp is adamant Bale is going nowhere.
"You couldn`t buy him for 25 or 30 million pounds ($40 or $50 million) that`s for sure," Redknapp told Sky Sports News in an interview on Wednesday. "If he had a value, if we wanted to sell him, it would be way in excess of that.
"He is an amazing young player. We wouldn`t entertain a bid. The chairman said he is not for sale and that`s good enough.
"We are building a team at Tottenham and we are a club that`s going places. The whole thing is going forward and we are not looking to sell our best players."
Bale was highly-rated when he arrived at Tottenham for 10 million pounds from Southampton in 2007 but lost form and confidence and even became a jinx for the team which failed to win in any of his first 24 Premier League appearances.
But Redknapp`s arrival worked wonders and now Tottenham can boast arguably the best left-sided player in Europe.
"It`s amazing how he can run and run and run against the best right back in the world," Redknapp said.
Bale was still leaving Maicon, Lucio and any other Inter player he found in his way floundering deep into stoppage time on Tuesday and looked as though he could run all night.
"He was ridiculous tonight," England striker Peter Crouch, who scored Tottenham`s second goal from Bale`s fizzing low cross, told reporters.
"It`s a dream for a striker to play with him because you know that nine times out of 10 he will beat his man and deliver the ball into the danger area."
Bale`s impact, although a little longer in coming, bares many similarities to that of fellow Welshman Ryan Giggs, who burst on to the scene as a teenager at Manchester United and even in his mid 30s can still torment defences.
Like Giggs, Bale has seemingly endless reserves of energy and covers every blade of grass up and down the left flank. He also has the same amazing ability to run at pace with the ball at his feet and deliver telling crosses.
Bale has some great tricks and fancy footwork but, as demonstrated by Tottenham`s third goal, he also adheres to the notion that simple football can be the most devastating.
With Brazilian World Cup-winner Lucio to beat, rather than shell-shocked compatriot Maicon, Bale knocked the ball 20 metres down the line, switched on the after-burners and accelerated before providing Roman Pavlyuchenko with a tap-in.
Where he has a slight edge on Giggs is in his physique. Bale is built like a rugby fullback and when shoulder to shoulder with a defender is devilishly difficult to knock off the ball.
Pity for England then, that Welshman Bale is unlikely to grace the World Cup for his country. Based on his performances over the last nine months, he would be an automatic selection for Fabio Capello, playing in front of left back Ashley Cole.
Luckily for Redknapp, whose own credentials as England manager Capello`s eventual replacement are improving rapidly, he has the luxury of selecting Bale every week.
Redknapp still thinks he is a natural left back but with Cameroon international Benoit Assou-Ekotto providing great cover, Bale`s attacking instincts have been used to the maximum.
"He was up against a right-back who, before these two games, no-one could give him a chasing," Redknapp said of Bale`s dominance over Maicon.
"It`s like a boxer. You might be knocking everyone out but suddenly you come up against a champion and it`s whether or not you can do it against the top people.
"Gareth`s done it again and in both games, no disrespect to the right-back, he`s given him the most torrid time you could wish to see. It was amazing to do that to such a top player."